- When should I schedule my child’s first OB/GYN visit
- What can my child expect during her first gynecological visit
- How often should my teenager see a gynecologist?
- How can I talk with my daughter about her first OB/GYN visit?
Parenting is hard. One of the trickiest areas to deal with is the maturation of your baby girl into womanhood. The first trip to a gynecologist is a kind of a rite of passage—both for your daughter and for you. Young patients and their parents usually have a lot of questions surrounding that first visit. This blog will give you some guidelines on when your child should start seeing an OB/GYN.
When Should I Schedule My Child’s First OB/GYN Visit?
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) suggests that a girl’s first visit to a gynecologist should be between the ages of 13 and 15. Of course, you should schedule an appointment sooner if the young woman is having medical issues before that age. The early teen years is when a girl begins to develop and explore her sexuality, which makes it a prime time for her to become familiar with an OB/GYN as a resource to care for her reproductive and sexual health.
There are other issues that may affect when to see the gynecologist. For example, if the girl has irregular menstruation or is late in having her first period. Most periods begin between the ages of 12 and 13. Although it isn’t immediately concerning when this isn’t the case, a gynecologist can make sure your pre-teen doesn’t have a hormone imbalance if her period hasn’t arrived yet by that age.
Irregular periods are always a concern, as are extremely heavy cramping and bleeding during the menstrual cycle. If your daughter has periods that last longer than a week or if the bleeding is soaking through one or two pads in an hour, please make an appointment with a gynecologist as soon as possible.
As soon as a young woman becomes sexually active, she should have regular health screenings. Teens should also receive the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine before the age of 26.
What Can My Child Expect During Her First Gynecologist Visit?
At Advanced OB/GYN, a patient’s first gynecologist visit consists of a health history and physical exam. The general physical exam consists of blood pressure, height, and weight. This exam may also include a quick visual inspection of the external genitals. The doctor may offer your daughter a mirror so she can look at herself and discuss the vulva or ask questions.
This initial checkup is a good way to learn about the body and ask lots of questions to help any maturing woman feel comfortable with her sexuality. The doctor may want a urine sample and, if the young woman is sexually active, may screen for sexually transmitted diseases.
Since it’s normal to feel nervous during your first gynecologist visit, we recommend that a Mom or other adult caregiver is also in the room at least during the beginning of the exam. If the doctor is male, a female nurse or assistant is usually in the room as well. The doctor will usually ask the parent to exit the room during the physical exam and discussion that follows to protect the patient’s privacy.
Most parents and young women assume that a pelvic exam is scheduled on the first visit. This is rarely the case if the teen isn’t sexually active. ACOG doesn’t recommend cervical cancer screenings (PAP smears) until the age of 21. So, the first visit may just be a talk between your daughter and the doctor. It’s a good time to ask questions about things like birth control, problems with periods, or any other issues that you or your daughter feel comfortable asking. This could include questions about:
- Acne and other puberty symptoms
- Health-related dangers of alcohol, drugs, and smoking
- Birth control options
- Cramps and other period symptoms
- Depression and moodiness
- Irregular periods
- Sexual partners and virginity
- Sexuality and sex in general
- Sexually transmitted diseases (STIs)
- Weight gain associated with hormonal changes
The first gynecological visit sets the stage for a lifetime of reproductive and sexual health. If conducted properly, this includes setting a precedent for a positive relationship with a gynecologist that will last for years. Thanks to the internet, teens are much less naïve than in the past; however, there are still myths out there that a good gynecologist can debunk. This first visit should include a candid discussion surrounding any questions your teenager might have in these areas.
How Often Should My Teenager See a Gynecologist?
After your daughter’s first visit to the gynecologist, she may not need to schedule another appointment for a few years if she isn’t sexually active and doesn’t have any health issues. However, yearly checkups focusing on the female reproductive system are particularly important as the young woman grows up. We call them well-woman visits, and they are critical to catching small issues before they become bigger health problems.
How Can I Talk With My Daughter About Her First OB/GYN Visit?
The transition from a pediatrician to an OB/GYN may be embarrassing or scary for your daughter. This is especially true if she worries about having a pelvic exam or having to discuss sex with a new doctor. Parents can handle this awkwardness by talking about:
- Why the visit is needed
- What will happen during the visit
- The types of questions she might feel comfortable asking
Consider these gynecological visits to have three important goals for the young woman’s health:
- Discussing puberty’s big changes in an accurate and confidential way
- Offering sexual health recommendations and preventative details about STDs
- Treating issues such as irregular periods or massive cramping
You can encourage your daughter that the visit doesn’t take long at all and that, if she finds herself uncomfortable at all, you can find another doctor that she likes better. Talk with her about whether she prefers a male or female or a younger or older doctor. It’s very important for the first gynecological visit to cater to her comfort and needs.
At Advanced OB/GYN we work closely with parents and their children to make the first gynecologist visit positive. We offer our services for high quality care and caring for a lifetime. Talk with us today to schedule a visit.